watercolor trees tutorial

How to Paint Watercolor Trees For Beginners

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to paint different kinds of watercolor trees. We are going to start with two super easy watercolor pine trees for beginners. Then, our third tree in the tutorial will be a little bit more complicated classic tree but still very simple if you just started watercolor painting.

This tutorial was created by artists who have handpicked supplies just for you.
Click below to shop with a 30% discount.


First Very Easy Watercolor Pine Tree for Beginners

To paint a fir tree in watercolor, we will first start by drawing the trunk. Let’s start with a shade of green and a stroke that widens from the top-down. 

Then, take a second green that is just a little different and start by painting the foliage on the left side.

I start from the top following a movement from the outside to the inside, that is to say towards the trunk and the further down I go the wider my shape becomes.

Try to visualize a triangle which would be thinner at the top and wider at the bottom and which will be the shape of your tree.

First Very Easy Watercolor Pine Tree for Beginners

Then, I do the same thing on the other side. I make small movements back and forth and I go down little by little widening the shape. I don’t necessarily have a preconceived idea in mind and the goal is not to make a perfect triangle but a slightly crazy shape. And here you are, you’ve painted your first tree in watercolor!

First Very Easy Watercolor Pine Tree for Beginners 1

Second Very Easy Watercolor Pine Tree for Beginners

For the second tree, I’m going to take a beige pigment and, like before, I start from the top and I draw a vertical line for the trunk. I use the tip of my brush at the top and I press down more and more as I go down.

I use a slightly lighter green and I start painting the foliage starting from the left side upwards and going down little by little. I try to widen the foliage by thinking of a triangular shape.

I also do the other side starting from the top. I always make a small back and forth movement and I widen the foliage so that the base is much wider than the top. I always try to create a shape that’s a little crazy and not too perfect.

Second Very Easy Watercolor Pine Tree for Beginners

This time, I take darker, more pigmented greens directly from my palette and add little touches here and there to give it a bit of contrast and create a nice texture. The darker green will diffuse into the lighter green and it gives the impression of foliage a little more lively. After that, I don’t touch anything anymore and let it dry like that.

Second Very Easy Watercolor Pine Tree for Beginners 1

Third Very Easy Watercolor Pine Tree for Beginners

For this last tree, I directly take a more pigmented green and I draw a line for the trunk.

Paint the foliage with this same dark green. I start at the top and, little by little, I go down — except that this time, instead of reloading my brush with paint, I just dip my brush in water to create a nice gradient down. 

The green pigment gets lighter and lighter as my brush moves further down the paper. Then, I do the same thing on the other side.

Third Very Easy Watercolor Pine Tree for Beginners
Third Very Easy Watercolor Pine Tree for Beginners 1

There you go, now you know how to paint a tree in watercolor in three different ways!

And now we are going to see how to paint a classic watercolor tree.


How to Paint a Tree using Watercolor

Let’s check out how to paint a tree using watercolor. Of course, there are different methods to achieve this. And tons of different trees from a watercolor palm tree to watercolor christmas tree; there are endless possibilities.

The one I am going to show you here is easily produced by anyone, even for beginners. You should be able to do it by following these steps. Do not hesitate to do and repeat this exercise because it is really by working and persevering that you will get the best results.


Step 1: Paint the sky

I start by doing a very light blue wash, that is to say, a very very very water-diluted color to illustrate my sky. I am very careful not to paint the part where the foliage of my tree will be.

How to Paint Watercolor Trees For Beginners wet the paper paint the sky

Step 2: Luminous part of the foliage

Wait until the sky is about dry to avoid mixing colors. I use a very diluted yellow-green as well which will represent the brightest part of my foliage. Go quite gradually and leave some white parts to create empty spaces between the leaves.

How to Paint Watercolor Trees For Beginners Luminous part of the foliage

Step 3: First Foliage Contrast

Then, I add a little more green to start contrasting the foliage of my tree. You can around with the dampened parts of your previous shade to mix this second color with the first one. You can also blend with a cloth or paper towel if you are not satisfied with the mixture and the result.

How to Paint Watercolor Trees For Beginners First Foliage Contrast

Step 4: Second foliage contrast

I then use a slightly darker and greener shade to add even more contrast to the foliage by dabbing the paper. The direction of the light must be taken into account. The shadow must, of course, be opposite the light source.

In my example, the light comes from the left, so the shadow will be further down and to the right.

How to Paint Watercolor Trees For Beginners Second foliage contrast

Step 5: Third leaf contrast

Then, I add a touch of black to contrast it even more. This will intensify the shadow.

With the magic of watercolor, the more you intensify your shadows, the more the light will be alive and you will bring your painting to life.

Obviously, it is necessary to darken gradually to avoid happy accidents (remember, there are no mistakes in watercolor painting :)), but the more you practice, the more you will gain self-confidence.

How to Paint Watercolor Trees For Beginners Third foliage contrast

Step 6: First layer of the trunk

For the trunk, I use a dark grey but diluted at first. I start from the bottom of the foliage to the ground. The adjustment of my strokes will determine the position of the roots and the foundation of my tree. I also sketch a few branches.

How to Paint Watercolor Trees For Beginners First layer of the trunk

Step 7: Second layer of the trunk

Darken the trunk in the second layer, always starting from the foliage all the way down. This gives volume to the trunk. Of course, the light must always be taken into account. I add a few more small branches on the parts that I have left white.

How to Paint Watercolor Trees For Beginners Second layer of the trunk

Step 8: Paint the soil

I choose a shade close enough to the green of my foliage to paint the ground. This hue is slightly greener than the foliage, a little more yellow, but will create a contrast with the shade of the tree.

How to Paint Watercolor Trees For Beginners Paint the soil

Step 9: Add shadow from the tree

The shadow of the tree on the ground must intensify the light and give contrast to my watercolor. This is not easy to achieve, so be gradual. The farther away from the trunk, the more the shadow should be blurred, and the closer you get to the trunk, the more intense the shadow should be.

How to Paint Watercolor Trees For Beginners add the shadow

Painting Watercolor Trees is Easy!

I hope this guide has helped you in your journey to watercolor painting greenery and trees in your beautiful watercolor landscapes

If you would like to know how to do more trees in watercolor, perhaps you’d be interested in learning how to paint watercolor Christmas trees!

Otherwise, you can check out our tutorial for painting 12 different types of flowers to further your watercolor art abilities.

This tutorial was created by artists who have handpicked supplies just for you.
Click below to shop with a 30% discount.

About the Author: Watercolor Classes

Hello, and welcome to our site. We've been passionate about watercolor for years and have learned a lot along the way. We hope our tutorials and tips will help you out on your watercolor journey. Let's make art together!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap